Finding Hazel DeckerNearly 50 years have passed since her last visit and Yellowstone National Park rangers are curious about what happened to her — a woman called Hazel Decker.
By: Chaviely Dellinger, Lake County News Chronicle
Nearly 50 years have passed since her last visit and Yellowstone National Park rangers are curious about what happened to her — a woman called Hazel Decker.
To that end, Lee Dalton, a retired Yellowstone Park ranger, has adopted a second career, that of amateur sleuth, in an effort to find any information that might provide insight into who she was and why she did what she did.
Dalton said that Decker was a frequent visitor of Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. Much of the time she spent in the park was dedicated to watching Steamboat, Yellowstone’s largest geyser. During the time of her visits, Steamboat was fairly unpredictable, though Decker reportedly saw Steamboat erupt 20 – possibly more – times. So how does this connect to Lee Dalton and other park rangers, nearly 50 years later?
“What I’m hoping to do is be able to find some of her family, some of her descendents, and see if we can get some photographs of her or any other information that we can put in the Yellowstone Park archives,” said Dalton.
In addition to knowing about Decker’s visits to Yellowstone, Dalton said there is little other information, however, he has found that she lived in Two Harbors, had children here, and was a teacher. He said he also knows one other thing about her — she wore tennis shoes.
“She was the original old lady in tennis shoes,” Dalton remarked good-naturedly.
The area where Decker watched Steamboat, a shady spot near a grove of trees, is now commonly referred to as Mrs. Decker’s Island.
And in 1967, when a new, albeit short-lived, geyser erupted, it was christened Decker’s Geyser in her honor.
Dalton talked about Decker’s legacy to Duluth’s WDIO-TV.
Shortly after that interview, Dalton said, Decker’s daughter and granddaughter contacted him and arranged a tentative meeting date, scheduled to take place in late July. However, any additional information is still very much appreciated, Dalton emphasized.
“We receive requests from people doing family history research a dozen times a year or more. This case is a bit different as it is a private party looking for info on an old friend,” commented Mel Sando, Executive Director at the Lake County Historical Society. Sando also said he searched for any record of Hazel Decker within the Historical Society, but found nothing.
“We possess very little family information here the historical society. All these types of records are kept at the County Recorder’s Office. I never found any record of a Hazel Decker in our archives,” Sando reported.
If you have any information about Hazel Decker, you may contact Lee Dalton at (801) 389-0259 or email,him at firstname.lastname@example.org.